Silent Changes to The History Manifesto

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 6:16am -- Deborah

Readers of our American Historical Review critique who downloaded The History Manifesto this past week may have difficulty tracking some of our criticisms to the PDF and HTML that are now posted on the book’s website.

That is because a number of changes have been made silently to the text, which create discrepancies between the published version of the book and the version now online.  No notice of these changes has been given in the new PDF or HTML.  The changes of which we are aware – changes both to the text and to the footnotes – relate to the work of economists and economic historians.  Many of these issues were originally pointed out by the anonymous economics blogger Pseudoerasmus.

The problem with unacknowledged changes is that readers cannot reliably cite or quote, nor can critics argue with a moving target.  If errors are significant enough to require amendment (i.e., something more than typos), it has been scholarly practice to acknowledge them.  A new edition – “corrected” or “amended” – is created, normally with some explanation for the changes.  Online texts indeed offer many new ways to indicate changes in a transparent fashion.  But as things stand, users of the current PDF or HTML of The History Manifesto will assume that the text is identical to the one originally posted in the autumn of 2014.

Last week we asked David Armitage and Jo Guldi to provide notice of these changes to readers in order to ensure that there would be no confusion.  Since they have thus far declined to do so, we are posting this notice to alert readers to the variant texts.

 -- Deborah Cohen & Peter Mandler, 23 March 2015

UPDATE:  As of Monday, 30 March 2015, Cambridge University Press has now posted a revised PDF identified as such, with a note on the site detailing the extent of the revisions, as is good practice.  See http://historymanifesto.cambridge.org/download/

For a PDF of the statement above, please click here:  

Silent Changes to The History Manifesto